A Word from the Headmaster – Ross Featherston

Helping out continues

With the boys’ final school day for 2018 fast approaching, I am looking forward to a number of special events – in particular, Secondary School Speech Night tonight and Junior School Speech Night tomorrow. As previously mentioned in my eNews, I am also excited about our Community Carols Service next Monday evening at St Andrew’s (all welcome!). And who is not charmed by the ELC and Lower Primary Christmas Pageants?

As we approach year’s end, opportunities to help others continue. As you know, we have a strong relationship with the Indigenous community of Pormpuraaw and we are always open to ways in which our communities can connect and help each other. If your son will not be needing his laptop after the end of this year, our ICT team would love to receive it. They will wipe the drive, patch the laptop if required and send it to Pormpuraaw in 2019. To arrange donation of a laptop, please contact our Director of ICT, Sandra Maher.

We are still seeking one more family to host a MITS student from early 2019. If you have ever considered this opportunity, don’t hesitate to email me to discuss it further. Please be in touch by Monday 3 December.

Have a great week.


From the Deputy Head of Secondary School, Peter Shepard (9–10)

Rites of Passage

Last week, the first group of Year 10 students completed the 9/10 B2M program by participating in the Rites of Passage camp. Under the guidance of Dr Arne Rubenstein, a team of world-class facilitators from the Rites of Passage Institute and a dedicated team of BGS teachers and Outdoor Ed staff, the boys and fathers/male mentors left on Tuesday and a community of men returned on Friday afternoon. These students now move into Year 11 to lead the school as ‘young men’.

The Rites of Passage camp is designed to mark the point in a boy’s life when he becomes a young man. Separation, transition and return are the key features of any rite of passage. For our community, the ‘separation’ occurred in a moving ceremony on Tuesday morning, when the mothers/female mentors let the boys go, and the boys and fathers/male mentors headed off to camp. ‘Transition’ took place on the camp – community was established; the men shared stories, values and beliefs; the boys undertook a challenge, were honoured for their unique gifts and talents, and set a vision for their future as men.

The whole community was strengthened through the shared experience. Many fathers have made new and real friendships, both with other fathers and with other young men. And many of the young men have a new and deeper respect for and knowledge of their fathers, and of the other members of the community.

On Friday afternoon, the entire group returned to the BGS community and were reunited with their families. The students were able to reconnect with their mothers, as young men rather than boys. They shared some of their experience – in particular, the young men spoke about how they plan to change and how they need their families to both enable and allow them to do this. The mothers were honoured in song, the Headmaster delivered an emotional address, and the community was celebrated as a whole and then shared an afternoon tea together.

Thank you to all those families who were able to interrupt ‘normal’ life and participate. For many, it was a leap of faith. Early feedback suggests that this was a truly transformational experience for many participants. Congratulations to all the students who participated – we look forward to supporting you in your endeavours to be the best young men you can be in the years ahead.


Rowing – Sunset at the Sheds

The morning looked bleak and dark clouds loomed in the early afternoon. But by 4pm, the sun was shining as just over 100 boys and 200 parents and friends of BGS Rowing congregated at the Mercantile Boathouse for the annual Sunset at the Sheds. The BGS 1st crew raced against an alumni crew with pedigree, including National Champions, Henley Royal finalists and Australian representatives. Both crews raced with comraderie and true Boat Club community spirit. In a tight race, the 1st VIII prevailed.

Meliora President Aleks Kulesza handed the School a cheque for $101,610.07 – an amazing fundraising total for 12 months, including $68,000 raised during the 24-hour Hudson Project campaign. Two new pair boats were named after 2013 leaver Andrew Maglio and 2014 leaver Alex Douglas. Both boys are in their final years at US colleges (Northeastern and Syracuse).

Two Inter-House Rowing events were held. Hancock won the Wilson Club (Years 7 and 8) quad race and School won the Senior (Years 9/10/11) eights.

In the meantime, more than 90 auction items were up for grabs, from weekend getaways to headphones. A new initiative, the Wall of Wine, was very popular, with 100 bottles available and Sean Jackson taking home a bottle of Grange Hermitage. A huge thank you to all who attended and to the Meliora Club Fundraising Committee, whose work saw a further $19,315.00 raised on the day.  #tonnersexcellence

Richard Bartlett
Director of Rowing


Making to Give

Year 8 boys have been creating wooden toys to give to charity in Creative Design and Technology this semester. They received a brief that outlined who they were making the toys for and then went through a process of researching and creating a working design to construct from wood.

The boys had to consider the size, functionality and (particularly) the safety of the finished product, as well as the age groups and interests of the recipients, to ensure that their gifts would be meaningful. They chose to make a diverse selection of toys, ranging from simple jigsaw puzzles to naughts and crosses and more complex mind puzzles, marble runs and ball games.

Previously, toys have been donated to the Monash Children’s Hospital and the Vinnies Christmas Appeal, and as far away as a school in Kenya. This year, they will be donated to BayCISS, a charity that provides a range of services to the community in the Bayside area.

The Year 8 cohort can be congratulated on an outstanding effort and commitment to completing a range of professionally made toys.

Nick Weymouth


Head Shave Challenge

We are ending the year on a high note with the BGS Head Shave Challenge! All Years 7–11 students will be attending the shave on Wednesday 5 December, with all funds going to support youth homelessness. Activities include a barbecue, crepes, raffles, music and a staff vs student sports challenge at the St Andrew’s end.

Years 7–11 boys are invited to join the challenge by committing to shave their heads. Sweeny Todd Barbers will be doing the honours on the day. We even have a few staff willing to give up their luscious locks for charity! Students will need to complete the application form (hard copies can be collected from Reception). Please return forms to Simone Lewis asap and get busy supporting your sons in their efforts to raise at least $350 through classmates, family and friends.

We are also in need of raffle prize donations, handbags (new or in good condition) and toiletries to be distributed through Share the Dignity. If you can help in any way, please email me.

As One, we can make a difference. You can donate here:


Simone Lewis
Head of Community Services (7–12)


B2M Update

This week, the current Year 8s were introduced to the B2M program. The program begins with the Great South West Journey (Sunday 24 February–Friday 8 March 2019). Further information will be released soon.


The Value of Data – and Ian!

When Ian Tongs completed Year 12 in 2017, after 13 years at BGS, he probably didn’t expect to be back. But one day a week since February, in between studying for a double degree in Commerce/Science at Monash Uni, with an extended major in Mathematics and a specialisation in Econometrics (try saying that five times fast!), Ian has been working with our MIS (Management Information Systems) team.

Education is not exempt from the paradigm shift that ‘big data’ is bringing about. Big data refers to the large volume of data available every day to – in our case – the School. In education, big data has huge potential to help us improve our delivery of learning. BGS has been a little ahead of the trend, having collected enormous amounts of data (NAPLAN results, ATARs, attendance, Effort Grades, fitness test results and progress test results) over the last few years.

However, the amount of data we collect is not the point; it’s what we do with it that matters. This is where Ian comes in. To make sense of all this data, he has been building models to analyse it. The insights we can draw from this analysis will enable us to build our learning system around practices that are the most effective, according to the evidence.

Ian’s knowledge of the School and his appreciation of how things are structured at BGS has been invaluable in this process. There are now many expert modellers trained for work in the corporate sector, but not yet in the educational sector. Ian’s years as a student at BGS have given him some insight into the pedagogy at BGS and how this plays into the data, making him the ideal modeller for us.

Many trends have become apparent via Ian’s models, enabling staff to recognise the impact of initiatives such as the Syndicate program. For example, Ian has used five years’ worth of data to produce refined boundaries for the PE Department. These new boundaries will be used for 2019 assessments.

Some of the findings have been especially interesting. For example, the models show that Effort Grades are more powerful predictors of a student’s ATAR than almost any other piece of data. For many students, surely this knowledge alone is a great source of intrinsic motivation.

The ultimate aim of collecting and analysing our data is to improve student results (both academic and non-academic) by helping both staff and students understand how behaviour affects achievement, and how students learn best. We’re very excited by the potential power of these models and how we can use them to help shape future programs at the School. And over time, as we collect more and more data, the models will become ever more powerful.

Once complete, Ian’s work will be assessed by PwC. Ian is hoping to spend a semester studying abroad in the next couple of years. We’re currently hatching plans to prevent the corporate sector from snapping him up.


Academic Uniform Fitting

From Friday 7 December, current students will be able to purchase the new academic uniform (to wear from the beginning of 2019) from the Uniform Shop. The Shop will operate extended opening hours in December to manage the increased demand. Opening hours will be as follows:

Friday 7 December 12–5pm
Saturday 8 December 9am–12pm
Monday 10 December 12–5pm
Tuesday 11 December 9am–12pm
Wednesday 12 December 9am–12pm
Thursday 13 December 9am–12pm
Friday 14 December 12–5pm
Saturday 15 December 9am–12pm
Monday 17 December 12–5pm
Tuesday 18 December 9am–12pm
Wednesday 19 December 9am–12pm
Thursday 20 December 9am–12pm
Friday 21 December 10am–2pm

The Shop will re-open on 7 January 2019. Opening hours for January will be available on the Noone and BGS websites soon. Noone’s experienced staff fit the boys for growing room. However, if your son happens to grow significantly over the holiday period, you can exchange any uniform item.


SchoolTV – Cyberbulling

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying using technology such as the internet or mobile phones. Content can be shared widely and quickly with a lot of people, making this form of bullying extremely dangerous and harmful. This week’s SchoolTV provides interviews with leading specialists, helpful articles, and fact sheets with tips for supporting your son to feel safe online.

Danielle Wolff
Secondary School Psychologist (7–8)



Get Fit for Summer

Box, cycle, HIIT or downward-dog your way into shape at your community gym in Annandale. You’ll love the small class sizes, superb setting and community atmosphere. Our highly qualified trainers are offering free fitness assessments to help you plan your goals and work out which classes suit you best.

Come and check us out at the Open Afternoon tomorrow (Friday 30 November, 3–5pm).

Visit the Annandale Gym website for the Christmas timetable.


Dylan Alcott Book Signing

Basketballer, tennis player, Paralympian, BGS Old Boy and Hall of Famer Dylan Alcott will be signing copies of his autobiography, Able, at Thesaurus Books (29 Church St, Brighton) on Friday 7 December at 4pm.



Dates for the Diary

Sat 1 December
– Year 10 Outdoor Education Leadership Programme

Mon 3 December
– Community Carols Service

Thu 6 December 
– Last Day of Term 4
– Sony Frankston Camp departs